Sunday, July 29, 2012

AWF Iceland Day 2

Workout of the Day
WOD 1 – in the morning…
Rope climb technique-15 minutes practice
WOD 2 – in the morning…
“Tabata Something Else”
:20 work/:10 rest intervals of pull ups, push ups, sit ups, and air squats
Perform 8 intervals of each exercise then move immediately to the subsequent movement.  Least number of reps completed for each exercise is your score.
WOD 3 – in the afternoon…
In teams of 3, establish a group total for snatch and jerk
Day 2 in Iceland saw 2 of the most unique training sessions I have ever taken part in.  The first appears innocuous on paper: tabata intervals of classic bodyweight exercises pullups, pushups, situps, and squats.  Lost in translation, however, is the fact that this was performed onboard a ferry whilst making the 2 ½ fjord crossing in choppy water.  We used 3 inch square channel piping for the pullups and a constantly tilting deck for the pushups, situps, and squats.  Needless to say, numbers were lower than usual.  But the element of balance, coordination, and spontaneity made this a special WOD.  26 people tucked amongst countless bystanders pushing themselves to repeated failure isn’t something you see every day.  And finding a way to train and be active while trapped aboard a ship transport for nearly 3 hours certainly qualifies as anywherefit. 
If the tabata was unique and resourceful, our max effort session was simply breathtaking.  In front of what is unquestionably the most beautiful waterfall I have ever seen, our party lugged, carried, and drug 400 kilos of bumper weights, 4 bars, and 4 sets of clips to set up our lifting stations.  There were no perfectly flat spots, but the stone slabs offered just enough of a hard surface to make it possible to find solid footing.  Picture 70 meters (220 feet) of water crashing down behind you as you try to set up for your lift.  Before you the landscape drops away another 150 meters (500 feet) to the cliffs and sea.  This was our environment.  Without doubt, the coolest spot I have ever attempted to move a barbell.  Despite these conditions, multiple people hit PRs on this day.  I personally had 115 kg overhead in the snatch and lost it behind.  Can’t be displeased with that effort in the least.
Will hopefully post some pictures the next few days to give everyone out there a better idea of what we’ve been doing and where we’ve been doing it.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

AWF Iceland Day 1

Workout of the Day
WOD – in the afternoon…
1400+ foot mountaineering (Church Mountain)
WOD 2 – in the evening…
5 minutes to complete the following:
200 meter swim
50 kb swings
AMRAP burpees
Day 1 of Anywherefit Iceland 2012 was pretty epic, to properly use what’s typically overused terminology.  Within range of the locally famous and mystical Snaellfelsness Glacier, our bus parked at the base of a towering spire aptly name “Church Mountain.”  As with most volcanic relics, this chunk of rock sloped abruptly upwards almost from our first step.  Our party of 26 quickly stretched to a series of smaller groups as the footing got less steady and the incline more severe.  Besides the strength and muscular endurance needed to hike this type of feature, you also need a ton of concentration.  There was shale and loose rock everywhere that would slide from under us without notice, making things precarious for those still climbing below.  Towards the top the only way to continue was to use a series of 1” diameter knotted ropes that had been anchored to the larger stones above.  This was an interesting bit for those in our group who hadn’t done much climbing.  It was also humbling to see how such a relatively small increase in elevation affected the psyche.  Fears of heights were reawakened, steps grew more and more cautious, and people were brought face to face with raw nature on a scale they rarely get to experience.  Of course, the view from the top was breathtaking.  One member of the group put it perfectly when he said, “This looks fake.”  It did, but that’s Iceland for you.  So beautiful that your eyes don’t know how to process what they’re seeing.
Later that evening as dinner was being prepared, I took the group over to the pool where we were staying for a shorter, more intense WOD to balance out the day.  First, imagine a 25 meter pool approximately 3 lanes wide.  Now imagine that pool in the middle of nowhere with nothing around it but green grass, a small creek of glacier water, and a sports hall.  This was our setting.  I lined up the kettlebells from 32 kg down to 16 kg on the grass beside the pool, and ran the group through the WOD in heats of 3-4.  Once again, it never ceases to surprise people how tiring it is to swim, even such a short distance as 200 meters.  Some used the full 5 minutes trying to finish this initial portion.  Others made it to the kettlebell with enough time to swing until failure.  Nobody was able to complete all 50 swings and get to the burpees.  I was certain I would make it, but lost steam in the 30’s and finished with 45 swings with the 32 kg bell.  The great part was that everyone, regardless of how far into the WOD they went, was smoked afterwards.  And happy.  It was a perfect end to a fantastic first day.  I will try to keep updating the blog as we travel and give everyone out there who couldn’t make the trip some updates as to what we are doing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Anywherefit 2013 Details

Workout of the Day
WOD 1 – in the morning…
Static Stretch/Targeted mobility
Handstands to front roll
WOD 2 – in the afternoon…
Snatch 1, 1, 1, 1, 1
30 snatches for time @ 145#
Back squat 5, 5, 5
WOD 3 – in the evening…
4 rounds for time:
400 meter  sand run
25 kb swings (24 kg)
15 burpees

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Grace in 1:45

Photo: Iceland comes to Folsom

Workout of the Day
WOD 1 – in the morning…
Static stretching and targeted mobility
Press to handstand progression
WOD 2 – in the afternoon…
Clean and Jerk 1, 1, 1, 1, 1 (each completed rep followed by 10 second overhead hold)
30 clean and jerk @ 135# for time
4 x 5 Deadlift @ 1-0-6-0 tempo
WOD 3 – in the evening…
5 rounds for time:
400 meter run
3 rope climbs (18 feet)
This is a few days old, so apologies on the delay.  Sven and Asta have been in town so my computer time has been more limited than usual. 
First off, the daily stretching and mobility is starting to make a difference.  Dedicating 15-20 minutes of my morning to old school static stretching is doing wonders for my overall flexibility, especially in my hips.  I’ve borrowed some stretches from k-starr and from the international gymnastics centre that are giving me great results, mostly because I’m doing them consistently.  More notable, perhaps, is how much I look forward to doing them every day.  It’s ritualistic in a world of constant variation, and I like that.  Following it up with some sort of upside down drill was a tip I took away from Dusty Hyland of Dogtown CrossFit.  It’s his opinion that CrossFitters simply don’t spend enough time inverted; that we treat handstands as some sort of skill that only needs to be touched on every and a while to perfect.  In the one week I’ve altered this pattern, I can already see that he is right.  My balance, confidence, and ability to relax upside down has gone up tremendously and, like the stretching, I’m looking forward to doing it every time.
The rest of the day went well, although I was feeling a little zapped of energy due to low sleep.  I clean and jerked 285#, which is only 10# under my pr.  The jerk felt easy, the clean a little rusty.  I love the static hold overhead upon completion of the rep.  I will be doing this every rep from now on in training for both the c & j and snatch. 
I did “Grace” in 1:45, the first 20 reps unbroken before giving in and doing 2’s the rest of the way.  My goal here is to not have to set the bar down and be under 1:30.  The evening conditioning wod was a great one.  Pushed hard on all the runs and spent as little time waiting at the rope as I could manage.  Did it with Jason at the box so we could give each other a little push.  Took me 10:42 to complete.  Very happy with this time and would like to see how some others out there do on it. 
Saturday I’m heading up to Tahoe to do a mountain run with the gym, meet up with some mountain boys in Drew Canavero and Myles Lewis, and spend some time paddleboarding a lake surrounded by mountains.  If you can’t tell, there’s a theme…  Don’t be scared of altitude people, keep moving up.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dellus West

This is a video of a good friend and training partner of mine in London that I did some anywhere training with while overseas.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day 1 back at it

Workout of the Day
WOD 1 – in the morning…
20 minutes static stretch and mobility
Parallette handstand holds
Lateral handstand walking
Full range kipping hspu
WOD 2 – in the afternoon…
Snatch 1, 1, 1, 1, 1
“Isabel” – 30 snatches @ 135# for time
Back Squat 5, 5, 5, 5
WOD 3 – in the evening…
Use 10 minutes to complete the following:
100 sledge hammer strikes (50 each)
AMRAP in the remaining time:
½ mile air dyne
10 muscle ups
First day of real training since the week before the CF Games and I came into it extremely motivated.  I’ve decided to get upside every morning for at least 10 minutes of various balancing and pressing exercises.  This is a lower intensity, high volume approach so I don’t expect too much impact on the body or joints, but I do expect my nervous system to learn a lot.  I’ve decided that this is going to be a strength rather than a medium weakness. 
My snatches felt rusty, but fast.  I stopped at 215# and worked a few sets there trying to get my feel back.  The power is there, just the timing was off.  I followed it immediately with “Isabel,” a benchmark I’d never done until today.  Watching the finalists go through it in the stadium on Sunday made me want to try it, and I think following up a heavy session with one large set with lighter weights is a great way to finish things off.  My time was 2:23.  Not bad but I think I’ll be under 2:00 before long.  Going right into back squats wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be.  I gave myself 5 minutes or so, but then just started hitting it.  Ended up at 345# for my top set and felt great. 
My conditioning WOD tonight turned out to be a crusher.  No big thing with the 100 sledge strikes—I used a 16# sledge and really hit the tire every time.  No bullshit sledge swinging.  But the air dyne/muscle up combo was brutal.  I ended up finishing 2 rounds + the ½ mile and 2 muscle ups.  My legs were splitting and my heart rate was maxed.  Loved the push but felt the week off for sure.  Day off tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

10 days...

2012 CrossFit Games Re-Cap

2012 CrossFit Games

Spending the weekend at the CrossFit Games as a non-competitor wasn’t easy.  I was happy for any distraction during the event as I found much of it difficult to watch.  I will say that it got easier as the weekend wore on… something about cold beer and good weather seems to cheer you up no matter how sour your mood is.  But there’s no doubt in my mind which side of the wall I’d rather be on. 
There were a few things that stuck out for me this weekend that I want to share.  First, we’ve almost outgrown the Home Depot Center, if that’s even possible.  It was an army of spectators all 3 days I was there.  The Vendor Village was like an Indian Bazaar, hustling and bustling at all hours.  Food and drinks were being sold everywhere at exorbitant prices, taking advantage of a fan base with nowhere else to go.  Viewing in the stadium was packed for every event, and waiting in line for the bathroom felt like I was at an NFL game.  The growth that this phenomenon continues to support is scary and exciting. 
Second, there is an accelerating professionalism that is permeating the event from the ground up.  The spider cam (a camera strung between wires from 3 different points above the track and stadium) captured some unreal footage of the athletes during the workouts, inevitably preparing ESPN viewers for some great television.  The jumbo-tron filled the gaps between events with back-stories and interviews that put human faces to many of the competitors.  The sideline reporters asked good questions, didn’t harass the athletes horribly, and in general did a great job.  If I had to point out a flaw in this evolution, however, it would have to be the announcers.  As everything around the Games has become more professional, this aspect is lagging behind.  Routinely butchering names, losing track of competitor’s progress, and often focusing solely on one individual out of 12, this is an area that can stand an upgrade.  By the end of the weekend, Dave Castro had re-emerged to assist with this aspect, a welcome sight for those of us who remember the days when he did the entire thing himself with knowledge of the individuals and events.  I know this is not an easy job, but as the sport grows, so too must the standard by which its voice is measured.
Third, the programming for the event was brilliant, in my opinion.  In 15 scored events over 4 days, athletes were tested across a truly broad and balanced range of aptitudes.  There were pure tests of endurance (triathalon), agility (obstacle course), speed (sprint), power (ball toss & broad jump), and strength (clean ladder).  There were surprise elements that the athletes had never practiced (double banger, medball clean).  There were WODs that cruxed on gymnastics movements (parallette hspu & bar muscle ups) and WODs that cruxed on strength movements (Chipper & Isabel).  There was even some good old-fashioned grunt work (rope/sled WOD).  Perhaps most importantly, athletes weren’t told ahead of time what they would be doing, so everyone had to rely on their training and adaptability to succeed.  Without much exaggeration, this year’s Games had a little bit of everything so that no one type of athlete could hide their weaknesses.  Watching as the events were announced and completed, I was impressed and appreciative of the work and thought that had obviously gone into programming the weekend. 
But the depth of the programming here seemed to highlight the lack of depth therein at the Regionals.  Watching the footage of the triathalon and seeing some of the times, it was clear that many were merely trying to survive rather than compete.  The paralettes gobbled all but a few women, and most men were barely keeping a 1:45 pace per 400 on the triplet.  Talking with fans around the event over the course of the weekend, many were echoing the same concern: why did they have to wait until the Games to see such a balanced test of fitness?  Compared to what they were watching in Carson, most felt that the Regional was little more than a weightlifting contest, and a rehearsed one at that.  The obvious answer to this question is thus: logistics and reproducibility.  If the Regional must be done in 17 different locations, the event planners don’t have the luxury of programming anything too crazy.  I agree on this point: there’s no way to test what the Games can test in 17 different places.  However, I do think it is possible to make the test more similar to the Games than it is now.  3 major ideas to support this:  1) Hold every Regional on the same weekend.  It’ll shrink the website traffic and lessen the buzz of what has been a 6 week feeding frenzy, but it keeps the workouts from becoming a practiced skill instead of an unknown and unknowable test as CrossFit is designed to be.  This would eliminate the athlete who depends on “cramming” and force everyone to rely solely on the quality and balance of their training to that point.  2) Host every Regional at a track.  It is beyond argument that it’s important to test running in fitness—hosting the Regionals at a facility with a track allow a spectator friendly, reproducible option for doing so.  3) Do a long WOD.  It’s obvious that aerobic endurance is a priority at the Games—3 of the past 4 years the Games have opened with an event that is longer than 40 minutes.  The sum time of my events at Regionals this year was 54:00.  There is a disconnect here.  Doing a legitimate aerobic endurance workout isn’t necessarily the spectator friendly thing to program, but it means that in order to get to the Games you have to prove that part of your fitness.  This would be a good thing.
Finally, not being in the athlete tent preparing for workouts allowed me to observe and digest other aspects of the Games like never before.  This was great!  The energy around the vendor village was cool to be a part of, along with seeing the different types of people that have come from around the world to be a part of CrossFit history.  The team competition was a lesson in camaraderie and teamwork, with the stadium seeming to change colors between heats as droves of supporters screamed to make their presence felt.  During the individual competition, I learned a bit about how we as athletes are perceived from a distance.  It wasn’t hard to tell who were the fan favorites.  Camille Leblanc-Bazinet always received a loud ovation, along with Jason Khalipa, Chris Spealer, Matt Chan, and Annie Sakamoto.  Defending champions Annie Thorisdottir and Rich Froning were also consistently cheered, for obvious reasons.  2010 champs Kristin Clever and Graham Holmberg drew some applause as well.  The majority of the athletes, however, did not elicit much of a response from the crowd unless they did something of note during the workout.  I thought this was telling in a couple ways. 
First, it’s obvious that although the crowds were larger than they have ever been, most athletes are still unknown to the majority of spectators.  People were responding not because they loved or hated the individual, but largely because they recognized the name.  I expect that as the sport grows, so too will the media coverage, and eventually the number of athletes with whom the crowd holds favor will increase.
The second thought I had was that spectators are thirsty for some sort of connection to these athletes.  They need to feel like they know them in order to cheer for them.  Throughout the weekend I watched this “knowing” occur almost spontaneously when an athlete would smile at the crowd or scream as they finished a lift.  The same thing happened if an athlete was repeatedly failing attempt after attempt.  It dawned on me that between the focus and intensity of competition, most athletes must look like cyborgs from the stands—more machines than men.  The truth is, people want to see pain and anguish.  They want to see joy.  These are elements of life that they recognize and relate to, so seeing them at the Games makes the athletes human.  Better, it makes them heroes.
Ultimately, I left the 2012 Games as proud a part of the CrossFit community as I have ever been.  I was more impressed with the events, organization, and performances than ever before, and the professionalism with which this event is being handled only bodes well for its future.  As an athlete, I am motivated to excel; as a fan, I am quick to applaud.  2013 starts today.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Marin Headlands

We had a huge crew come out to join us in the Marin headlands just north of the Golden Gate bridge on Saturday.  Special shout out to the large crew from Lalanne Fitness who supplied great local knowledge and an ice chest full of beer upon completion.  Our training included a 2 mile trail run through the hills and the fog, followed by a kettlebell chipper amongst the bunkers overlooking the bay.  Some of the coolest views in the bay area are to be had up in this area, so if you get the chance to check it out, don't pass it up.

Check the video below.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Swim WOD

Photo: 530 am class ready for the 2nd half of summer!!

Workout of the Day
WOD 1 – in the morning…
Deadlift 5, 5, 5, 5 (385#)
Strict Chin Up 5, 5, 5, 5 (53#)
Bent Row 10, 10, 10 (135#)
Hand over hand pulley throw 30 ft, 30 ft, 40 ft (35#)
WOD 2 – in the evening…
3 rounds for time:
200 yard open water swim
20 kb snatch + thruster each side (53#)
10 burpees
After a long 4th of July I was not feeling too strong.  385# felt like 435# and the strict chin ups went from easy to impossible from set 1 to set 4.  But in spite of my lack of gusto, there was something gained from the strength session.  I really enjoyed the pulley as a different way to target the smaller muscle groups that help you finish bigger movements like jerks and presses.  It flashed me back to the days of dip/skull crusher supersets at California Family Fitness. 
By the time the evening rolled around, I had caught a nap, regained a bit of pep, and was ready for something long and uncomfortable.  Joining me with the 6:30 class were a couple of CF East Sac’s finest swimmers: Brian, Kyle, and Alice, all of whom are collegiate level or above in the water.  This provided a great push for me, since even though I’ve swam a lot this summer, it doesn’t compare to how well these people move in the water.  I was able to make up ground on land with the snatch/thruster combo, but not quite enough to keep up with Brian.  He finished the WOD in 18:09.  I was next at 19:35, and Kyle behind me just under 20:00.  The thrusters ended up being the most challenging piece, surprisingly.  It goes to show how difficult it is to do a movement unilaterally when you don’t practice that kind of balance. 
A big group is heading to the bay on Saturday to tackle the Marin headlands.  If anyone is in the neighborhood, come out to join us.  Should get to Bunker Hill around 9:30 am.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Workout of the Day
WOD 1 – in the morning…
Hang Snatch 3, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1
Back Squat 5, 5, 5, 5, 5
Strict Press 5, 5, 5, 5, 5
3 rounds:
15 foot cargo net climb
15 good mornings
WOD 2 – in the evening…
4 rounds for time:
7 muscle ups
10 ring dips
13 toes to rings
400 meter sled pull (100#)
One word describes my current state after today’s training:  WRECKED.  Honestly, I’m still sore from Saturday’s fun at the parking garage, but today just took everything to another level entirely.  Charlie Zamora came up from elk grove to train this morning so that gave me a little extra motivation.  Ended up hitting 225# for my top set, waaay beyond what I expected to get.  Pretty stoked about that.  Definitely feel like this exercise encourages speed, speed, and more speed.
We moved to the squat/press sequence directly afterwards, the idea being alternating sets of 5 completed with as little rest as necessary between.  The work weights were 325# and 135#, respectively.  I made through all 5 rounds of this sequence without breaking or failing, the whole thing taking 12 minutes and change.  I can feel my squat strength really starting to roar back.  I’m looking forward to a testing date a few weeks out.
Came back this evening with something a little nastier.  The section of the bike path that we use for our 200, 400, 800, and 1 mile run course is quite hilly, especially the portion I decided to drag the sled on.  The way I set this up was to start at the gym, using a set of rings inside.  Once I completed the ring complex I drug the sled 400 meters up the hill to a second set of rings hung from a tree branch just to the side of the path.  After doing the ring work at this end I had to drag the sled back down the hill to the gym.  To finish the WOD I had to make this roundtrip loop twice, and it sucked the life out of me to do so.  My time was 29:31 and it felt at least twice that long.  At no point was the demand more than I could handle, but the duration was so constant and brutally long that I found it hard to keep mentally pushing on.  I guess that’s reason enough to program something like this.  So go do it, and let me know how you liked it!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

From the Archives

In the middle of the Northern California heat this summer I was longing for some cooler weather.  It made me start thinking of the coldest workouts I've ever done and this is the one I remembered most.  In Treviso, Italy 2010, a throwback with icy handstand pushups, wall balls, and deep snow stair running.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Parking Garage WOD

Workout of the Day
WOD 1 – in the morning…
Hang Power Cleans 3, 3, 3, 3, 3
Atlas Stone Deadlift 5, 5, 5, 5, 5
WOD 2 – in the afternoon…
Partner carry 10 stories, alternating as necessary
200 burpees as a team
400 meters wheelbarrow walk as a team
We had an incredible turnout for Saturday’s outdoor WOD in downtown Sacramento with 25 people showing up to tackle the 14th and H parking deck.  We quickly partnered up and began the carrying portion to the top.  I wound up in a group of 3 with Jason Mulligan and Ben Alderman.  To accommodate this adjustment, the odd man did standing broad jumps while the other two carried/were carried.  We rotated as necessary until reaching the top.  Once on the top deck we alternated sets of 10 burpees as fast as we could until we hit 300 for our team.  This was surprisingly easy.  The rest interval was plenty long enough to feel near fully recovered so each set was getting done fast.  Finally, we traded off wheelbarrow walking until each of us had completed 200 meters.  This was by far the most difficult piece of the workout.  Not only were the arms and chest smoked from the burpees, but the concrete surface took its toll on our hands.  Everyone that tried to go without gloves wound up with blisters on their palms.  Not pretty.  Still, the workout was a blast and having so many people up there to share it with made it a really special day. 

Ben managed to get a short clip of us doing the buddy carry.  Brought back some memories from the Iceland trip last summer.